Sterling Issues Apology, Says He Doesn’t Believe Owners Will Vote Him Out Of NBA
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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling delivered his apology to CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview that aired Monday, following the backlash of a tape that was released in April, featuring allegedly racist comments from the veteran owner.
Sterling made his apology in the beginning of the aired interview, addressing the words he said on the tape, and acknowledging that he hurt many people.
“I’m not a racist. I made a terrible, terrible mistake, and I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt, and I’ve hurt so many people, so many innocent people, and I’ve hurt myself,” Sterling told Cooper. “You know, I spoke to a girl that I was fond of, and I don’t know why, when I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I could say words like that. I’m not a racist. I love people, I always have, but those words came out of my mouth, I guess, and I’m so sorry, and I’m so apologetic.”
Sterling then shifted his focus toward estranged wife, Shelly, who over the weekend claimed she would do whatever it takes to keep a stake in the Clippers.
“I hurt my ex-wife,” Sterling said, fighting tears. “She is a beautiful person. She goes to the hospital, and she’s a volunteer and Cedars Sinai. When I went to law school, she worked at the children’s hospital. She’s a giver, she works. At this stage in her life she still works. She didn’t need this. Her whole life blew up.”
After Sterling said that he did not know he was being recorded by V. Stiviano, he suggested that he was being baited for the audio tape, and that his words were spoken out of the emotion of jealousy.
As the interview progressed, Sterling continued to put more of the blame on Stiviano, including after Cooper brought up the event in which the Clippers players turned their warm-up gear inside out prior to Game 4 of the first round of playoffs against the Golden State Warriors.
“I really didn’t pay attention to it. They are Clippers. They’re mine, and I’m theirs. That’s how I feel,” Sterling said. “I would do anything for them. I made a mistake, I hope it’s in their hearts to forgive me for that mistake. I didn’t mean it, I said a few words. I don’t know why the girl had me say those things.”
Three days after the initial recording surfaced, sparking the controversy, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, over a highly-publicized press conference, claimed that Sterling would be banned from the NBA from that moment on, as well as be subject to a vote by the other owners as to whether or not he would be forced to sell the Clippers.
Silver’s actions sparked wide assumption that Sterling would bunker down for a legal battle against the league.
Sterling, in the interview, said that would not be the case.
“Let me just say that I apologized to the league,” Sterling told Cooper. “People want me to hire a wall of lawyers, and then they’ll hire a wall of lawyers, and go to war. I don’t think that’s the answer. I think the answer is: the league is a good league, all honest people. And I think that whatever they decide that has to be done, I think I should work with them and do it.”
When asked if that meant parting with the ownership of the Clippers, Sterling responded, “I’m not sure that’s what they want… I’m a good owner, I have a good team, there are people that want to buy my team, but because the media says that the owners want me out, doesn’t mean that they want me out.”
Sterling continued to claim that he spoke with “some” of the owners, and suggested that he has their support, and that he doesn’t believe the other owners would vote him out of the league.
The blame on his recent fall, he says, falls on the media.
“The players don’t hate me, the sponsors don’t hate me, the fans don’t hate me, the media hates me,” Sterling said. “The media. It’s all the media, pushing it. I believe it a hundred percent. People call me by the thousands and give me support.”
Among those who were specifically discussed in the recording was former Laker great and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Magic Johnson. The topic of Johnson was also discussed in the interview, in which Sterling claimed that Johnson was no role model, and asked what he’s ever done for African Americans.
“Here is a man, I don’t know if say this, he acts so holy,” Sterling said. ” I mean, he made love to every girl in every city in America and he (has) AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him. I hoped he could live and be well, I didn’t criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children? You know, because he has money, he’s able to treat himself.”
Sterling went on to say that he admires everything that Magic Johnson, who started the Magic Johnson Foundation to provide awareness, along with testing and treatment programs for HIV, has done.
Nearly immediately afterwards, however, he continued his criticism of Johnson.
“What has he done? Can you tell me,” Sterling asked Cooper. “Big Magic Johnson, what has he done? He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anybody in South LA? What kind of guy goes to every city and has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV, and is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn’t do anything.”
Commissioner Silver, who was present at the Miami Heat win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, released a statement after reviewing Sterling’s apology.
“I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper, and while Magic Johnson doesn’t need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack. The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible.”